Becoming a Chorister

To have sung in the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge was to be offered a glimpse of absolutely everything that music making could be; passion, commitment and emotion on a daily basis. I was the youngest ever chorister, starting at the age of 7 and later a choral scholar. Without question I owe every musical fibre of my being to this choir

Iestyn Davies MBE (Chorister 1987-93, Choral Scholar 1999-2002)

The Choristers of St John’s College Choir are part of a centuries-old tradition with a vibrant modern present.  

  • The children Choristers sing six services a week in the College Chapel during university terms, and tour the world twice a year, including recently the USA, China, Japan and throughout Europe.
  • A peerless musical education is just part of the Choristers’ experience - they all board among the 450 other pupils of the academically renowned St John’s College School described by the Good Schools Guide as ‘magically happy’. They live together in a homely boarding house from which they walk each day across the College grounds to the Chapel.  
  • The Choir is not required to sing during Holy Week, Easter or at Christmas and the Choristers are free for Half Terms from Sunday to Friday. 
  • All Choristers receive a bursary of two thirds of school fees, with no child ever excluded from the Choir for reasons of finance.  Choristers go on routinely to win music and academic scholarships to leading senior schools.

Here's Matthew to give a taster of what it's like to experience a tour with the Choir:

St John's College School

The Choristers and Probationers are educated as boarders at St John's College School, winner of the national Best Prep School and Best Prep School Headmaster Awards. SJCS is a leading independent co-educational day and boarding school in Cambridge which offers an exceptional educational experience to children aged 4-13.

Chorister Cricket Match

St John's Choristers following the annual cricket match with the choristers at King's College

If you know a child who loves to sing, a Choristership at St John’s could be the best possible start in life for them.  

The Director of Music, Christopher Gray, is always happy to hear from parents or guardians of any children aged six+ who is enthusiastic about singing.  They need not play an instrument or have any formal training, in the right child, potential is more than enough.  

There is more information on what it means to be a Chorister, and on what an audition would entail in this Chorister Handbook.

Choristers in the snow

The Choristers enjoying the snow on the Backs at St John's College

If you would like to discuss things further, our Departmental and Touring Manager Andrea McDermott is always pleased to talk to parents of prospective Choristers on 01223 353652 or choir@joh.cam.ac.uk.

St John's College School, 75 Grange Road, Cambridge, CB3 9AA
Telephone: 01223 353 652
Website: www.sjcs.co.uk  

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Latest webcast

Recorded on
9 March 2024

 

A Meditation on the Passion of Christ is a service of music and readings reflecting on the Passion of Christ. This year the service features music by Byrd, Purcell, Weelkes and MacMillan, as well as the final piece of a triptych of works written for the choir by Joanna Marsh.

Latest news

Magnificat 4 includes two commissions written specially for the Choir of St John's College; Jonathan Dove's 2022 canticle setting St John's Service, and Judith Weir's 2011 service of the same name.

Winner of the 2008 Ivor Novello Award for classical music, Jonathan Dove CBE has composed a broad range of works and is one of the most successful British composers today. 

Jonathan was kind enough to share insights into his St John's Service, the compositional process, and what we can look forward to in the future.

The commitment, projection and natural energy of this choir have never failed to inspire me

Organists’ Review